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tv   Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao Testifies on FAA Reauthorization  CSPAN  June 13, 2017 7:56am-10:01am EDT

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test. test.
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captioning performed by vitac delays of over certain period of time. so we have tried to help the traveling public and to know what their rights are and that's right on our website. i'm not so sure what the protocol is but i'm going to make this point. 21 did streamline procurement,
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but the procurement of faa equipment is still a problem. we are still dealing with vacuum tubes and paper strips. there's such a long gap of what we need to do. so without being disrespectful i wanted to respond to the ranking on that, that despite air 20, there's not been that much improvement, unfortunately. >> ms. chao, thank you. i wanted to talk to you about drones and drone legislation. maneuver 750,000 owners have registered their drones. congress is happy about this accomplishment in relatively a short amount of time and looking forward to getting to 100%. but they ruled that the faa's regulation requiring drone
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registration for recreational use is illegal. my bassic question is what are we going to do next? >> we have not yet decided. the decision just came out from the courts a few days ago so we're in the process of reviewing and evaluating. if you have specific viewpoints, we'd be pleased to work with you on that. >> and if you would consider this a request for technical assistant on statutory changes to clarify. drones are exciting from a civil defense perspective, from a recreational perspective, but there are new issues and i think it's important to make policy and not devolve all of our authority to the executive branch in this instance and
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since the authorization bill is a live vehicle, it's important to do this on a bipartisan basis. i know fisher mentioned air service, and i think i can speak for everybody on the committee, when i say the proposed reduction in funding from 175 million to 108 million in the fy 18 budget is alarming, and i would just like to get your assurance that you understand how important this is to the committee and that we're going to make sure that essential air service is part of the basic promise that the department of transportation makes to our constituents. >> i certainly do. the budget was put together in the beginning part of the administration when many key members were absent. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator shots.
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next up is senator marquee. >> thank you very much. we have a situation, madam secretary, where airlines are over charging passengers because they changed their flight or checked a couple of bags. today several airlines actually charged $200 to change or cancel. that might be greater than the value of the ticket which the person actually purchased. and on top of that many are charging as much as $25 for the first checked bag. $35 for the second bag. that could be $120 for a round trip for that bag from one destination to another and back, and the fee epidemic is just growing.
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carry-on bag, print carryon passes, blankets. the reason they can do it is that they're not operating for the most part in competitive situations. four airlines now control 85% of the traffic in the skies, and an analysis from the u.s. travel association found that 74 airports are served by only one airline and 155 airports are dominated by one carrier controlling over 50% of the seat capacity, and the result is that the airlines reap 4.2 billion in baggage fees. 2 .9 billion in change of cancellation fees just last year, and passengers are just demanding some relief. they're put in situations where they can be tipped upside down at the desk. what can the department of transportation do in order to give relief to these passengers?
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>> well, as i mentioned, we try to give people -- we posted on our website at passenger bill of rights, but these are frustrating issues. we all travel. we've all experienced it. i look forward to working with you if you have additional ideas about that. >> that's what i'm afraid of. you can only give people notice that they don't have any rights, and i think as we do this faa reauthorization, senator blumenthal and i are intending on ensuring that we make an amendment that gives passengers rights, gives passengers protections. it's the fair fees act, but we'll make it as an amendment to ensure that the fees are fair and reasonable, proportionate to the costs of the service which is being provided.
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i think we need to debate that, because notice that you have no rights -- >> no, we're not saying that. we do try to help passengers and put the passenger's bills of rights on, but these are issues that do emerge, and we really can't do very much about pricing, but we want to work with you as you go forward and thinking of solutions. >> that's the point. we're going to need to pass legislation so there's a definition of what is fair, what is reasonable, what is proportionate, and over on i.t., the whole world is operating on i.t. right now, but southwest airlines and delta airlines experience technology issues that resulted in thousands of flight cancellations across the country last summer, earlier this year delta and united airlines had two large outages within a week causing even more flight disruptions. the airlines i.t. testimonies still haven't been brought into the 21st century. we've also found that airlines
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have not fulfilled their obligations to take care of the stranded passengers when there are cancellations and delays, many airlines do not have interairline agreements in place which allow airlines to reboot stranded passengers on another airline at no additional cost to the consumer, and i think it's going to be critical for us to deal with this issue so that the airlines understand that we believe it's critical for them to upgrade their i.t. services, and many instances, they don't even notify passengers that they have a right to compensation because of the delay or the cancellation of flight. they're not expressly notified. can the department help on that issue to make sure that the airlines give -- >> passengers are supposed to be told that they have a right to compensation. you may have heard, a number of airlines in response to the recent incident on united has
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raised the compensation, for example, for over booking to $10,000. >> from my perspective, when i look at the airlines and their own i.t. systems right now and their need to be upgraded dramatically in order to deal with all these issues, and then i look at a proposal to give the airlines on a nonprofit board the per pond rans of the control of that board to move us back to the 20th century, i think. if they can't upgrade their own i.t. systems and can't figure out how to do it for their and passengers, to give them the key seats on this kind of a board, it seems to me, given the record of safety of the existing system, would be from my perspective, sequentially wrong. first they should prove they can do all these things for their own passengers before we're giving them responsibility for taking on all of these larger now governmentally-controlled responsibilities.
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we thank you for your service to our country. we're going to have a big debate here on this faa authorization. >> thank you. i have senator hassen up next. >> welcome secretary chao. it's good to see you. as you know, earlier this year there was a truly unfortunate incident in which united airlines forcibly removed a passenger bringing new attention to the lack of consumer protections that exist in the airline industry. the united airlines incident does not represent a one-time mistreatment of passengers. there have been several incidents between the yients united airlines and today's hearing. those were just the cases that were reported. i'm sure you join us in finding the incidents unacceptable. it's why i introduced the
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tickets act with several of my colleagues. this legislation will improve transparency for consumers, review overbooking, guarantee paying customers have a right to fly and makes other common sense reforms. does the department of transportation share my concerns and the concerns of granite staters and people across the country that more needs to be done to ensure better flying conditions for consumers and how does your team plan to address this? >> of course we're very much concerned. what has happened is inexcusable. as mentioned, we have alerted all the airlines of what their responsibilities are. and we have posted a passengers
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bill of rights so that individual passengers, travelers can access the website. and as we go forward, we want to make sure also that the airlines understand what their responsibilities are, and it's to their own best interest to treat passengers with respect and with curtesy. so i think that effort is ongoing, and the airlines need to take that responsibility on themselves. >> and thank you. and will you and your staff work with those of us who are sponsoring the bill to look at the elements of the bill and see if it makes sense to incorporate into the faa reauthorization? >> yes. >> thank you. last congress house of representatives put forward to change the way our nation's air space is governed.
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senators on both sides of the aisle have raised questions about how and whether the plan might work. as we assess changes to the current air traffic control system. we have to make sure that safety is pair mount. in march of this year, over 115 mayors including the mayor of new hampshire wrote to the leadership of this committee expressing concerns, specifically noting they are concerned that commercial airlines would be essentially governing themselves which would devastate rural and mid size communities where it's harder to attract robust airline service. what is the president's plan, if any, to safeguard rural communities should major changes take place to our air traffic control system? >> i want to make it clear, first of all, because i think there's a lot of concern about this.
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that this new air traffic control system, if it were to be taken away from faa so that the inherent conflict of interest which currently exists which is that we have an air traffic control operating system, that is regulating itself on safety, that is an intrinsic conflict of interest. number two, this new air traffic control system is not going to be controlled by airlines. what the president's proposal says is that there's going to be a new governing structure and a new financing structure. the governing structure will comprise of 13 members and only two seats are available by airlines. the rest are going to be filled by airports, labor groups, labor representatives, general aviation. we'll have at least two. it will be the whole stake holder group.
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their responsibility is not to look after their parochial interests but to look after the interests of the whole air traffic control system. so rural america is very much a part of that. we're very much aware that the members of the committee come primarily from rural states. it is an issue that we are aware of, and as we go forward, we've now released this proposal. we look forward to working with the members of this committee and the senate and the congress on this issue. >> thank you. and i think it would be very helpful if we could include mayors and governors in that discussion as well. >> we're meeting with them this friday. >> thank you. >> mr. chairman, thank you. secretary chao, thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to answer some of our questions. can i change directions for just a minute and talk about drones? it's an issue that i've been
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working on for the last couple of years, and it's important to the state of nevada, because it's one of the six nationally recognized unmanned aircraft systems test sites, and you're probably familiar with that. i think our state's a perfect place for commercial testing. and i think it's proven so, mostly because of the state's expertise, the expansive air and space corridors. there's predictable climate in nevada. there's low startup and operational costs. i've worked with my colleagues during the last congress, and from states other sites, and the extent the faa support for these sites through 2019. unfortunately it's my opinion from the previous administration did not -- their faa did not utilize the test sites to the best of their capabilities, and i think there's a lot more work to be done. i guess my question for you is to ask you if you support extending the authorization and the sites beyond 2019. >> that is a question which i
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did not anticipate. i will go back and take a look at that issue. it was a folder on my table, but i didn't think it was going to be asked today. i'll take a look at that. >> i'll anticipate a followup. thank you for that. one of the reasons that i think we need the extension is the ability to conduct these tests beyond the line of sight. right now they're limited. they have to be able to see the drone, and actually it's prohibitive to testing these things if you're only limited to line of sight. in fact, some of the commercial companies that are being tested right now are saying that if they can't go beyond the line of sight, that they'll have to do their testing overseas. so that's the concern that we have. i want to see if you had any insight, or do you support any testing that would be outside the line of sight? >> i'm aware of the issue. i just haven't linked the two together in terms of the testing
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site. the other issue is having drones fly over the heads of populations. we're looking at those two issues. we'll work with you on that. we hope to come out with something that is common sense cal. >> as you're aware of, there's a lot of drones out there. there's a lot of commercial drones. you can walk into a store and by yourself a drone and start flying this. i have one of my sons, it's just the latest and greatest. he wanted to see how they work. now he's learning the restrictions of what you can and can't do with one of these mechanisms, but i think there's real possibilities in the future. i want to make sure nevada stays in the forefront of this issue when it comes to commercial use, and being able to work with your office on this particular issue does mean a lot to our state. >> there's a difference between the commercial and the hob yiss. most commercial operators understand the rules. it's much more the hobby people.
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>> he's a hobby person. >> and because of the recent court action that came out the last two days, we're reviewing the issue about how to deal with hobbies. >> i'd like to work with you on that, obviously he has an interest, and i think there's a group of millennials out there that have the same interest and need to be aware and educated of the use of these things. and practicality of it. what they can and can't do. i do know they're restricted around airports. i was with him one time when it stopped. it's programmed in it how close you can get to an airport. that drone will stop and hover and won't continue to move forward. it's fascinating to see the technology is already there for the necessary protections around corridors that perhaps are a little bit more sensitive than others in>> i understand. we look forward to working with you. >> thank you. >> thank you. senator peters. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for being here today.
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it's always good to see you and appreciate all the work you're doing in the auto industry as well as what we're doing here with the faa. i want to start off before i ask a couple specific questions and just add my comments to what i think is incredibly important for my state and clearly as important to other senators. that deals with rural airports. michigan is an industrialized state. i'm proud of our auto industry. we're a rural state. we have more -- we're second in terms of the air service airports in the country. and i know you've responded to several questions related to that, but it really goes back also, i think, to the
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privatization of air traffic control and in your opening comments talked about that type of privatization would actually help rural airports, if i got your testimony right. they'll be able to preserve contract towers that may be in some of the smaller airports. there won't be movement away from regional airports -- excuse me. rural airports into larger regional airports, but it seems inconsistent that we have a budget that was pult forward by the president to cut essential air service which is truly essential in rural communities. without it it's difficult to have economic development. it's a major negative for the rural areas of our country, and then if we are moving to a privatized system run by the airlines who are profit-making entities, the reason they don't serve rural areas is because they don't make money. the economics don't work. but they are essential for public service reasons. how do you square that?
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how do you square the administration wants to cut essential air services and says privatizations air traffic system will help rural airports but putting the major airlines that don't make money in airports. walk through that. >> if i may, i would say these are two separate issues, but having said that, let me assure you that the interest and the concerns of rural america is one that i share. the essential air service, that was part of the budget of the fiscal year 2018. i can defend it, but i will say that that decision was made when a lot of people were -- when the administration was just staffing up, number one.
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on the issue about rural america, we are very concerned about rural america. and we want to -- some of the issues, for example, with contract towers, is actually an issue of budgeting uncertainty. if you take it out of the government, the budget certainty will benefit rural america. the third issue is the new air traffic control system, the structure we're suggesting through the administration's proposal is not one that's controlled by airlines. there is a board of directors, of 13 people, and only two seats of the 13 are to airlines. the rest are to airports. it's to labor. it's to advocates. it's so other stake holders so this is not controlled by the airlines. and i think that's a very important -- >> we'll have to -- i appreciate you bringing that up. we'll have to see what the actual legislation states to have fuller discussion about that. i appreciate that. with the recent attacks at airports in fort lauderdale and brussels. i've heard from airports in my state their frustrated the faa and tsa can't agree who is
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responsible to help airports reach their security needs. this finger pointing is putting the traveling public at risk and unacceptable. one solution that i have been working on would provide airports greater flexibility to use passenger facility chargers to improve their infrastructure. i know for my airports, if money were no object and they had greater flexibility with their pfcs, they would be investing in other things to protect from vehicle born attacks like the one we tragically saw in london recently. additionally we should look at allowing, i believe, airport improvement funding program for airside perimeter, cc tv systems. just your sense, does that make some sense to you that we look to provide greater flexibility
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for our airports to provide the type of infrastructure necessary to protect passengers going through them? >> i think security is very important, obviously. but so much of this with the passenger facility charge is really up to the congress. >> right. thank you. >> next up, senator gardener. >> thank you for your time and testimony today. i appreciate the opportunity. to senator peters, last congress this congress committee passed a bill called the screen fast act. however long it took someone to come up with that name, i don't know, but i would encourage the faa and tsa, in two different departments to continue their
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work together to implement the screen fast act and the opportunities to develop new technologies, new emerging technologies and how we make sure our passengers and airports are secure. there's great opportunities under the screen fast act. the opportunities are there for the faa and tsa to continue to work together on those new technologies. secretary chao, in october 2015 the northern colorado regional airport working with the colorado department of transportation put forward and selected by the faa as a site for a remote tower pilot program.
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the goal is to demonstrate technologies and not depending on traditional towers. one of my goals of this is to include language that would allow airports to use remote towers, allowing them to be eligible for airport improvement funds. my question would be if you would support remote towers in inclusion if the technology is certified by the faa? >> yes. >> thank you. and the other question, another dealing with denver international airport land uses. there are challenges in regard to land use. they've been attempting to get land approval for jefferson parkway. the parkway is the final piece of the denver beltway that would go around the metropolitan area. corridors in the region have significant cob jeff sessions challenges. this would help alleviate that. faa was suggested for approval for the right of way in 2013. the faa is requiring a
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multimillion dollar review. even though it's been the subject of an environmental study. there's a study done for $15 million and the faa is requiring another one. in march i joined with senator bennett sending my colleague from colorado a letter to the faa urging expeditious consideration to resolve this issue as quickly as possible. given the administration's goal, would you commit to me to reviewing the jefferson parkway situation and reporting back to me? >> i'd be pleased to. >> denver international airport has been looking to develop the nonair nautical land use to raise additional revenue for re-investment. they have red into red tape that increases the cost and prolongs time lines for construction completion. do you think there's
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opportunities to reeliminate reform? if so, could you help describe some of the steps the department has taken to eliminate some of the red tape? >> yes, we are working on addressing the permitting aspect of the infrastructure proposal, because we have talked to many people in the private sector, and they are very -- many are very interested in helping to finance the infrastructure. public infrastructure. but in certain states they are discriminated against and unable to participate in the infrastructure needs. that's another issue you did not ask about, but on the permitting, we're at work on that. one example of how we can perhaps ease the permitting process without, of course, compromising any environmental concerns is if some things are -- something as simple as that can shorting the permitting
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process. >> thank you. over the past several decades we've watched as we've made strides in development of new airplanes and airplane technology. they are more reliable and the united states is obviously a leader in that aviation manufacturing, and we must maintain that. one area that has remained stagnant is the development of the speed of commercial aircraft, and colorado we've made advancements in the speed of aircraft. i think there's incredible opportunities in super sonic aviation. in a much more safe and reasonable responsible manner. do you have a position on expanded super sonic aviation technology in. >> there are noise limits. nasa is working on this issue, and to the extent that the noise
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level of the super sonic flights can be reduced that would meet current regulations, that's something that we hope will happen. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for your presence here today. let me begin by commending the administration for proposing
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something new with respect to our air traffic control system. so often government falls into a stay sis where we don't propose creative new ideas. even those tested tried and proven to work in other areas. i know we have to incorporate the very valid concerns which i share about our rural communities and their service into this proposal. as you indicated, this modernization proposal may enhance safety, lead to more independence between the safety side of atc and the operation side, and improved procurement. hopefully we can improve the proposal and make it acceptable to more members of congress. i'd like to turn to standards that your department is currently reviewing with respect to transportation of lithium ion batteries aboard passenger aircraft. i respectfully request that you consider the impact of the policies on public health as it pertains to the transportation of life saving medical devices. many are produced in the state of indiana that use the high standard batteries. i urge your department to carefully consider the implementing of any restrictions that would impede the transport of the life saving medical
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devices. as your department's review moves forward, i look forward to working with you and your staff to ensure there are limited exceptions established to protect public health and provide the seamless delivery of life-saving medical devices in time critical situations. could you offer your thoughts in establishing to allow for such transportation? >> lithium batteries can be a problem on flight -- on airplanes. there's a problem of them instantaneously igniting, and they don't need oxygen to keep on burning, and it's very difficult to put it out. which is why there's such concern about it. so one of the current issues is whether these batteries should be banned overall or whether they should be put in the cabin where if something did happen, the human factor, human beings will be able to see that something is burning and do something about it versus
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putting it into the cargo hold where it was thought originally to be safer, but if there's no human surveillance, then that actually makes it more dangerous, but let me assure you that this is a difficult issue that the administration is grappling with, especially from a security point of view. you bring up a new point where i have not heard being voiced before. let me have my staff work on your staff on understanding more of that issue. >> i think it's worth noting that not all lithium batteries are created equally. some are more stable than others. these devices which are often implanted inside human beings to save their lives are incredibly stable and hardened. very low failure rates. so it's my strong conviction they ought to be treated distinctly from lithium ion batteries that are found, for example, in a cell phone. we'll look forward to continuing the dialogue.
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it's my intention to move forward with any improvements your department may have to offer in incorporating policy changes in the faa reauthorization in this matter. if i could briefly turn to reiterating the importance of a d.o.t. program that's out of the purview of faa. it's the capital investment grant program. back home in indiana, we have several communities depending on the long-term viability of this transport program for projects like the south shoreline which provides a vital corridor from south bend, indiana, to chicago. indiana communities have worked to provide the necessary local funding for this transit program, and we believe any state matches are also going to be there, and so we're depending on the federal program's viability and continuance. i look forward to working with you and your staff at the federal transit administration
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to ensure the economic benefits of this program, realized in communities like south bend, gary, and east chicago, indiana. so on behalf of our bipartisan hoosier congressional delegation, i hope the d.o.t. will prioritize the projects and do so in the 2019 annual report. i also want to inheight you -- invite you to see the potential of the south shoreline in the west lake corridor extension project. in your nomination hearing we discussed you visiting indiana, and i was encouraged by your response. i'm hopeful that you might visit and observe this project. >> i look forward to it. >> okay. thank you so much. >> thank you senator young. next up is senator cortez mastl. >> thank you. secretary chao, thank you. it's good to see you again. i appreciate you being here and answering the questions. let me say this. thank you for the passenger bill of rights on your website. i found it after sitting for just under three hours on a
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tarmac on a commercial airline. it was there. thank you for that. a couple of things that my colleagues touched on. i want to say while i understand your position on air traffic control privatization, i do have concerned. similar concerns that have been expressed by the dozens and dozens of mayors across the country, including from many of my rural communities like fernly and miskeet and poulder city, i want to talk a little bit about. and this pertains to the contract tower program. in boulder city, there is a nontowered airport that had about 100,000 aircraft operations in 2016. they've experienced several incidents where aircraft using crossing runways at the same
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time have had close calls. a contract tour would add air traffic safety at the airport. boulder city about 250,000 passenger carriers an an increase of 15% over 2013. what can i tell the mayor of boulder city who is looking to be a part of the contract tower program and whether it is going to exist and be protected for their potential -- to their potential benefit? >> whenever there's a budgetary pressure, what happens is the contract towers become the easiest target for elimination and cut baxs which is why the administration is making the point that the air traffic control system needs to be separate from the regulatory part of faa.
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and it will be a self-sustaining, the air traffic control. it's basically a change in the governing and financing structure. nothing will change from -- during one day to another during the transition. >> can i ask either way, is boulder city assured they would be able to obtain a contract tower under either program whether we privatize or not? they should still be able to rely on that benefit? >> i would hope so. in the new entity, the rural communities will continue to be very important. again, because of the steady budget process, there's a greater chance of steady funding and greater stability for programs like the contract towers.
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>> is that something you'll be advocating for to make sure the rural communities are protected and the budget is there to protect the needs? >> yes. i'm always concerned about rural america, and in particular, yes, with boulder city, we'd be more than happy to speak with them. >> thank you. and you've heard from senator heller. of course, i am also looking for an extension of the programs, the uas innovation with the test site in nevada beyond 2019. i want to make sure if you could lay out for me, i know there's been federal personnel hiring freezes and the executive order requiring two for one regulations. i want to make sure those programs or policies are not holding back any of the development into the uas research and regulations. >> i do not believe so. the hiring freeze was put into place as is the case when the administration first came in. i will take a look at -- and i don't believe the project you're talking about has been impacted. >> and you talked a little bit
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about it with respect to the commercial users versus the hobbyist. i appreciate. i know you stated recently at a drone conference in fargo that the administration is working collaboratively for integrating drones into our air space. would you concur there's a number of questions for safety and oversight? >> i'm not quite sure how to answer that. it's a new field. there are lots of issues with the line of sight and over the flying over heads of people, for example. >> i agree. i think there's a lot of issues we're looking at. many of them the safety. many of them preemption. there's concerned about federal reejs hindering any innovation
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in this space. are you willing to work with us to address these things to make sure there's a balance, that we're not hindering that innovation? and then also let me know or let us know here in congress, is there a way that we should be -- is there space for us to clarify the intent regarding the balance of that state and federal interest related to this space of unmanned aircraft? if i can get a -- >> yes. >> all right. that's easy enough. thank you very much. i appreciate it. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you mr. chairman. secretary chao, thank you for being here. i'm a pilot. i've flown aircraft all over the world. without a doubt, our u.s. traffic control system is the best, but also the most complex in the world. air traffic controllers do a phenomenal job in ensuring that u.s. air travel is safe and efficient. does our technology need an upgrade? it does, absolutely, but that's a procurement issue. if there's a problem with the
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system it's that congress does not provide reasonable funding. the faa is exempt, so they could procure the technology they need faster than the current rate. when we last week, i highlighted a primary go of the fast act is to provide highway and transit decision makers with the funding certainty they need to make good decisions. in that same vein, if congress was willing to provide the faa with funding certainty, the faa could plan better and avoid a massive, costly and dangerous reorganization of our air traffic control system by privatizing it. we're not canada or great britain. the faa successfully manages the busiest air space in the world. and yet, the faa has made the air traffic control system the
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safest in the world. it's safer than any of the examples championed by advocates of privatization. i don't take our air traffic controllers for granted, and i won't gamble with the flying safety of the public. i oppose any privatizing of the faa, of air space. transportation plays a critical roll in connecting americans and communities across this country, and to economic communities. as a member of three infrastructure related committees, one of my top priorities is ensuring that communities with federal projects are located benefit from the results from that investment. so those jobs remain in these particular areas. this is particularly important for workers in low income and rural areas. in 2015 congress established a
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local labor pilot program that enables states to consider geographic hiring references and labor hiring preferences for veterans, and federally funded highway projects. the pilot has been renewed twice, most recently for five years. would you commit to working with me to expand that pilot program to aviation projects? >> i don't know enough about it, but i'm always willing to work with members of congress. >> okay. that would be great. thank you. i think this is -- if you look at the fact that it's been renewed twice, it's a good sign of the success. i would hope we could expand it. earlier your office delayed a rule that would have made it easier for consumers living with
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disabilities to know how often airlines damage equipment. i sent you a letter asking for an explanation to delay the rule. you haven't responded, and you just told senator blumenthal you have a reputation of always responding. >> i'm surprised by that. your letter i know about. i didn't mean to interrupt. >> that's okay. >> will you commit to responding to my letter now. >> i will. >> i truly believe that congress has a constitutional obligation to ensure that taxpayers dollars are spent wisely and we foster an environment where any individual can achieve the american dream. effective and efficient
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government, that's my goal. oversight of the executive branch should not be a partisan issue. transparency should not be a partisan issue. they disregarded requests for information from congressional democrats. i'm sure my republican colleagues see the folly. both parties have experience in the minority. will you commit to providing all can congressional offices with timely responses to requests for information. >> i always have, but this particular issue is different. this is an oversight issue. and in the administration past, the oversight always comes from the chairman and the ranking. >> we've not always required the chairman to sign off on the requests. >> this is not a new practice by this administration. it was followed by the previous administration as well. >> why did the administration feel the need to issue a new letter. and mr. chairman, i request unanimous consent that this article i have on white house
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orders agencies to ignore -- >> why would the white house need to do that? >> you'd have to ask the white house. >> right. thank you so much. >> thank you. >> thank you. thank you so much. i was there earlier and heard a few of your answers and then had some other things. i wanted to first of all, reiterate, i know one senator talked about some of our concerns with the air traffic control reform, and i know we'll be talking act those going forward. and he's covered some of that and also the special air service budget cuts that others
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mentioned. so i thought i would focus on something that haven't been discussed, the small airplane revitalization act which i introduced. that was signed into law, and it requires the faa to modernize certification regulations for small airplane a design. there's still work to do on the certification process. the faa reauthorization bill from last time including streamlining the certification process. i'm hoping this includes important certification reforms. how would u.s. companies be affected if the faa fell behind other countries in developing new certification standards? >> we would not like that to happen, and we want to be up to date and responsive. we continue to work on that probably not as quickly as we'd like, but we continue to work on that. >> i think it's really important we manufacture some of these jets in minnesota and we really try to keep up to date so we can compete with other nations, and a lot of it is safety reforms. i appreciate it. here's one you've heard of. open sky agreement, an important part of the u.s. transportation
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policy for all air carriers. both democratic and republican administrations have pursued and expanded these agreements. which have provided u.s. consumers and carriers in airports with more choice. we recently sent you a letter raising concerns for state owned carriers. we're very concerned about the negative ervegt as this keeps going that this is going to have on american carriers and american jobs. what steps is the administration taking to ensure the open skies agreements are protecting u.s. workers and carriers from unfair competition. >> we're concerned about protecting u.s. jobs, and this is a very complicated issue with stake holders on both sides. we in the administration are consulting with one another and we hope to have a decision pretty soon. >> okay. that would be very good. it just keeps getting worse and worse. and yes.
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okay. that's good. thank you. safe skies in fact safety isn't just about the quality of the planes. it's also depends on our own a tired pilot as we've seen in the horrible crash in the buffalo area is not just a danger to themselves, but to those in the air and on the ground. the safe skies act, which i plan to reintroduce is something that i introduced with senator boxer. the bill would take the rest requirements put in place for passenger pilots after the flight 347 and apply them to cargo pilots. and currently, they have looser requirements. what actions is the administration taking to combat pilot fatigue? >> there are rules and regulations on the books already, and so we certainly are enforcing them. and if the congress has a different point of view or an additional concern about safety we look forward to working with
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you on that. >> okay. thank you. one last question, i recently wrote a letter with senator moran urging the d.o.t. to investigate deceptive practices in the online travel and tourism marketplace. we know that some deceptive online companies imitate the websites of actual airlines to attract bookings. these fraudulent sites can leave consumers with s with schedules use can't use. what steps is the administration taking in online travel fraud? >> we're looking into this issue. i hope to have more staffing in the future as we go forward. that would help us address this issue as well. >> okay, very very good. just one last question, the 2016 faa extension bill required the
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department to take measures to allow families to sit together when traveling on a plane. there hasn't been a proceeding or study yet, the deadline to establish policies on family seating is coming up. what's the department's plan on that? >> we're, obviously, sympathetic to traveling public who have family members who are separated. we think rksz thouthough, the a themselves would take it upon themselves to do something about it, voluntary action in the cabin itself. we look forward to working with you on it. >> thank you very much. i really appreciate it and thank you for your service. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator. madam secretary, we appreciate your patience, we'll wrap up here momentarily. we don't have any members that i know of that are coming back. let me just ask a question regarding the general aviation community which is concerned about how it would fare under the proposed new -- new proposed
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atc system. the administration's principal stressed the importance of maintaining access for ga users but also note that all users of the system should pay their fair share. does the administration envision the new entity being able to charge per flight user fees on general aviation operators? >> i'm so glad you brought it up. in my various previous statements i had not mentioned general aviation enough. i was going to end my testimony today with a mention of the general aviation's interest. we are very concerned about, obviously, their concerns about the administration's proposal. we're committed to working with them. maintenance of access is a huge issue. they will have -- general aviation will be nominating two of the seats out of 13 seats,
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same as airlines. so, again, general aviation's interest and influence will be felt. the other thing i should say is general aviation also includes corporate jets. that's a bit different than the mom and pop single pilot that's, you know, flying around the country. and so we understand the issues that general aviation is concerned about. and we want to work with them. >> yeah, and to that point, one of the major concerns they have is cost to access the airspace. and whether or not user fees would be assessed. so that's why, you know, it's a specific question about whether or not the administration does envision that new entity assessing per flight user fees on general aviation operators. that's a question i think they'll -- >> i think it's open at this point. but using just one example, nav
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canada, they currently just decreased once again their fees for general aviation, i think it's $65 for the year. it's quite low. >> as you've heard today, there are a lot of questions that need to be addressed and there is a consensus on this committee on that particular issue. we're moving forward with our legislation. we'd love to do a multiyear faa reauthorization bill that would attract broad support in the senate. that was the case we had last time. so i guess what i would suggest coming out of this hearing is that you and your team and the administration make every effort possible to try and find consensus among the stakeholder community on this issue. because it's much easier to get consensus on this committee and in the senate if there is consensus among those who are going to be most impacted by any
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proposed changes. and right now, i mean, i think that as you've heard today there are lots of questions on both sides about how this new system would function and operate. the more precise as you work through this, the answers to those questions can become, you think, the more clarity you'll have about where this committee and in a broader sense the whole senate might be. i know there's a great interest in moving forward in the house with this approach. and we'll be monitoring, obviously, the action there and see what they are able to do. and responding accordingly, but one thing we won't probably do is wait forever. we're going to move forward. we are in the process of drafting legislation right now. there are a whole range of other issues as was pointed out today, too, that affect aviation in this country. most of which, if not all, we
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will address in our legislation. so we'll continue to work with you and hear from you and your team on all those issues, but particularly with regard to the proposal on air traffic control reform. i would encourage you to reach out to the stakeholder community and try and find consensus on this issue. it will make it easier moving forward. i think with that, we will keep the hearing record open for a couple of weeks. if members wish to submit questions, we'll ask they do that in that timeframe. to the degree you can respond as quickly as possible, that would be most appreciated. thank you for being here today and for your response to the many questions raised by members of this committee. we look forward to continuing to work with you, thank you. >> thank you, we look forward to working with you. >> this hearing is adjourned. >> thank you.
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and this morning's cspan 3 live on capitol hill with the senate foreign relations committee hearing with secretary of state rex tillerson. you can see the chair and the ranking member here in the room, bob corker of tennessee, and ben carden of maryland. secretary tillerson and department of state. north korea has released an american college students. again, that news just coming from secretary tillerson announcing this morning, news from the u.s. department of state. again, just waiting for

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